As I See It
Wisconsin U.S. Senator takes on “cartel” of higher education
What does Ron Johnson have against higher education? The U.S. Senator from Wisconsin is trying to backpedal now after his controversial comments about college. Johnson mused that we can replace college teachers simply by letting today’s college students watch movies as a way to learn. He points to Ken Burns award-winning documentary, The Civil War. He argues there are no college professors more expert on the subject, so colleges should fire history teachers and let student’s watch the movie as a way to learn about that period in the nation’s history. The reaction was strong and swift. Even Burns weighed in, saying he hopes to support teachers, not replace them. Sen. Johnson is now trying to argue that what he meant is that we need good teachers and good technology. But Senator, videotapes which you reference are not good technology. Hate to break it to you, but the digital age has arrived. But the most striking thing about Johnson’s comments is the vitriol he unleashes on higher ed, referring to our college and university system as a “cartel.” Clearly, he isn’t a fan. His idea is ridiculous, as videotapes, or even mp3’s, couldn’t begin to replace our teachers, who teach not only the subject matter, but also critical thinking. Something that seems to be sorely lacking in Johnson’s bashing of higher education.